Tesco have somehow managed to get into the recent seek.net booklet, The Internet Shoppers Guide to Going Green (actually in a sanitised version of the real product made for sale in supermarkets). As well as somehow selling themselves as an ethical supplier of entertainment product (... uh huh ... I'll blog about the neutralisation of ethical shopping by increased consumerisation another day) they also have an advert that reads as follows:
Once upon a time they seemed pricey.
So we decided to sell them.
Yes. Very clever advert but utter rubbish. The fact is that Tesco, along with the other retailers, choose a few books each month to promote, demand extortionate discounts that only the biggest publishers can afford, and then choose at least one book to promote as a 'loss leader'. This means they will sell it cheaper than it can be bought by other retailers from a wholesaler and use it as a 'driver' for 'footfall' (forgive the retail-speak).
This does not help book retailing, in fact it cheapens the whole business of books, restricts the market to a few big players and reduces the amount that even they have to spend on developing new authors. This is not some act of salvation for the book trade by Tesco, it is the complete opposite.